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Public Cloud Data Handoff – Know the Security Risks

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I call it the “public cloud handoff.” You select a public cloud service provider to support a piece of your business and then hand over responsibility for your critical business information, putting the onus on the vendor to care for your enterprise data as if it were their own. However, operating with an “out of sight, out of mind” philosophy can cause serious risk to your data security.     

It’s important to realize that when it comes to the public cloud, what you don’t know can hurt you. There are certain risks associated with public cloud services and being aware of these not only makes you a more educated user, but also enables you to advocate for the security features that your business requires.

Roger Grimes with InfoWorld recently provided a top five list of cloud risks that is a must-read for organizations that are using and/or considering a public cloud service.  Here’s a snapshot of his list of cloud security issues that businesses everywhere need to know about:  

1)     Shared access: The public cloud approach of sharing computing resources (storage, CPU, memory, etc.) with other customers creates potential vulnerabilities, including your data being leaked to other users or a hacker being able to exploit customer data.  

2)     Virtual exploits: Find out what virtualization products and management tools your services provider is using to prevent server hosts and guests from being compromised.

3)     Authentication, authorization and access control: Ask the vendor if authentication processes are shared among accounts, how data is encrypted, who holds the encryption keys, where data is stored, and how many accounts can access their systems.

4)     Availability: In order to protect against lackluster fault tolerance and availability, Grimes recommends backing up your data that is being stored in the cloud.

5)     Ownership:  This is an important point that we’ve stressed in past posts (“Who Controls the Keys to Your Data Kingdom?”):  when you share your data with a public cloud provider, you end up sharing ownership – and in some cases, turning over ownership to the provider.

These public cloud security risks are the reason most enterprises are staying away from using a public cloud provider to store and share their sensitive business information. Learn more about Accellion’s private cloud file sharing solutions that provide robust data security features here.

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